Sunday, October 14, 2012

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times - Chapter 94

#94 - Eating beans is a sign that you are poor.
Photo is of mom and me having Champagne in the hot tub, around 2003. 

Back when I was a kid and mom would say things like #94 above, it just seemed like a simple declaration. Now it seems much more complex. I’m not sure if that’s because life is more complex, or because I am mature or both or neither.

Granted, beans are one of the least expensive things we can eat, but they are also one of the most nutritious. Perhaps the more significant issue is why mom would say that eating beans is a sign that you are poor. I can’t help but wonder if this is one of the many spin-offs of the Great Depression, when apparently many, many people had very little to eat. Perhaps people who ate food other than beans during that time were relatively “wealthy.”

I wonder if my mother experienced hunger. I wonder if my mother experienced poverty.  I wonder why it mattered to mom to not appear to be “poor,” and what, in her day constituted poor. These seem such trivial matters, but they really aren’t because they are the things that shape our lives. And yet I would never think to ask my mom these questions. And I can’t because she is no longer with us.

On a less melancholy level, #94 doesn’t seem that far from some people’s wish to appear wealthier than they are. We buy houses, cars and clothing that are less expensive models of more expensive versions. And some people really seem so driven to homogeny – only eating, doing, wearing, living like the people they want to be.

By the way, did you know that you can leave beans, or any food for that matter, sitting out of the refrigerator for up to 24 hours and they won’t spoil if you do not put an airtight lid on them? Mom said to boil beans (or whatever), or rewarm adequately within 24 hours and the dish will not spoil. I’ve done this for years, without poisoning anyone, and it really works.

Myself, I like beans cooked with bacon and beer and lots of cumin and garlic, and served with cornbread and green onions. And admittedly, when I’m feeling a little financially pinched, I always think of cooking a big pot of beans. So maybe mom was right, eating beans is a sign that you are poor.

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